By Mark Rosenberg
As the spray season moves forward it’s important to continue to assess your sprayer and make sure you’re getting the best performance with the least amount of spray drift potential. Nozzle selection is an important part of that assessment. Consider your priorities before making nozzle choices. Nozzles are relatively inexpensive but they can be the most important sprayer component you buy.
When should you be concerned about spray drift? One setting may be when you are spraying highly active or nonselective herbicides. Another reason to consider a low-drift nozzle is when treating herbicide-resistant crops such as glyphosate-resistant soybeans or corn. You may want to use these nozzles when the spraying is done near a sensitive area such as shelterbelts, farmsteads, gardens and other settings.
They are also a good choice if you are trying to reduce environmental contamination and avoid future drift problems. Low-drift nozzles are designed to produce larger, more consistently sized spray droplets with fewer drift-able fines. The bigger droplets are produced in a pressure-reducing chamber inside the nozzle and, with several nozzles, by incorporating air into the sprayer droplets. These nozzles are excellent at reducing, but not eliminating all drift.
Whatever your nozzle choice is, make sure you read and use all pesticides according to their label. If the product prohibits applications above a specific wind velocity, you are breaking the law and may be held liable for any damages caused by the misuse. Be aware that drift-reducing nozzles only reduce drift, not eliminate it.
A joint SDSU and NDSU Extension publication is available to help producers learn more about the nozzles that are available. It summarizes characteristics of low-drift nozzle technology and features photos of each nozzle and the spray patterns they produce.